Tele-Communications Inc., the nation's largest cable-television operator, may accept a 35% stake in Tri-Star Pictures as a $125-million partial payment for a movie theater chain it is negotiating to sell, industry sources said Wednesday.
The stake would mark TCI's entry into the motion picture and television production business and place the Denver-based company on an equal footing in Tri-Star with Coca-Cola Co., which also owns 35%.
Tri-Star, for its part, would reduce its cash outlay for the movie theater chain that it recently agreed to buy for about $500 million. The 4-year-old studio also would gain a shrewd shareholder in TCI President John Malone, who has won Wall Street's respect for capitalizing on the firm's assets to expand his corporate reach.
As previously reported, Tele-Communications agreed in July of this year to acquire 51% of San Francisco-based United Artists Communications for $390 million in cash and notes and to offer to buy the rest on similar terms. UA Communications' assets include the nation's second-largest movie theater chain and 12th-largest cable-TV company.